EVENT: Virtual Balloon Race

Let’s go fly… a balloon!

The Royston Kite Festival is one of the highlights of the local calendar: a day out on Royston Heath in the sunshine, watching hundreds of kites being flown in amazing aerobatic displays. Simply a pleasure to watch.

And, along with so many other events in 2020, it has been cancelled this year.

But Royston Rotary Club, who run the Festival, have come up with an alternative plan for some aerial enjoyment: a virtual balloon race, with all the proceeds being donated to Home-Start.

What is a Virtual Balloon Race, anyway?

Virtual Balloon Races use satellite technology to map how far real balloons would travel, given real-time weather conditions, and other factors such as how much helium the balloon holds and how thick its skin is. These results can be viewed via a web browser over the course of several days, and the balloon that travels the furthest is the winner.

But the balloons aren’t real, right?

There have been plenty of news stories lately of the environmental impact of balloons being released into the air: pollution from plastic that doesn’t biodegrade, injuries to birds and animals, and even stories of balloons being found inside whales and dolphins.

So, the balloons in the Virtual Balloon Race are just that: virtual. They only exist on your computer screen and in the algorithms of the computer programme that runs the race. This is much safer for the local and wider wildlife, while making the race itself more exciting: you can track your balloon in real-time and locate it wherever it travels!

So, what do I have to do?

Simply pop along to the Rotary’s website and purchase a ticket – or more than one! Each ticket costs £3 (for one balloon), however, you can buy as many balloons as you like – so why not get the children, grandchildren, even next door’s children involved?

You can decorate your balloon, give it a name, and adjust its helium content and thickness. Then, on Race Day, watch your balloon set off on its journey.

And then what?

Well, the winning balloon (ie, the one that travels furthest) will net its owner £500. The second prize is a brand new Apple iPad, and there are ten lots of £10 book tokens available as well. And, if we can sell over 500 balloons, the winning balloon from the Royston area will receive a £50 prize.

If you would like to know more about the race, click here, or if you’d like to go straight over to buy a balloon, click here. And don’t forget to share this with your friends and family, even if they don’t live locally.

The best thing about a virtual balloon race is that it can bring us together, even while we’re apart.

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